Food Safety and Harmonisation

In 2012 Horticulture Australia Ltd (now Horticulture Innovation Australia) initiated a project to harmonise food safety certification requirements for the major retailers in Australia. The result of this project is the Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS). The HARPS project has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd using across-industry levies and funds from the Australian Government. The scheme is voluntary and application for certification is open to all fresh produce businesses that undertake the following activities:

  • All vendors growing whole produce for retail sale
  • All vendors packing whole produce for retail sale
  • All distributors/brokers/agents supplying whole produce for retail sale

The scope of the HARPS is for the growing and packing of whole produce. The scope does not include the processing or value-adding of produce.

All the major grocery retailers in Australia participate in this program, including:

  • ALDI
  • Coles Supermarkets
  • Costco
  • Metcash (IGA)
  • Woolworths

The HARPS project has resulted in the alignment of the major grocery retailers in Australia accepting a suite of Food Safety standards that will allow growers and packers to complete a single audit against a single standard that will satisfy all stakeholders, rather than audits against multiple standards.

What does this mean for you?

So far around 400 businesses have participated in HARPS. These businesses have been direct suppliers to the supermarkets and need to be compliant by January 2018.

Growers and packers that do not supply direct to the supermarkets will need to be compliant to the agreed base set of standards by January 2019. To do this these businesses need to have their 2018 audits to a compliant program.

So, what is a compliant program that contains these base standards?

All the major Australian grocery retailers have worked together collaboratively under the Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) to identify these base standards. They have judged that the following programs will be compliant to HARPS for indirect suppliers:

  • Freshcare Food Safety and Quality
  • SQF Code Level 3
  • GLOBAL G.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance.

What about generic HACCP systems?

They have been judged as not meeting the agreed base elements. If you have a generic HACCP system you will need to move over to one of the approved systems before you do your 2018 audit.

For further information on these requirements, go to HARPS website or talk with your auditor.

Any grower without a compliant program in place by 1 January 2019 will not be able to sell any of their produce into the central market until they have completed a compliant program and passed an audit against that program standard.

Find out more about the programs